Kremstal is perhaps the most fascinating of Austria’s wine zones, not only for its viticultural history, which features ancient monastic vineyards and ruins of thousand-year-old terraced vineyards but also for the rich diversity of its terroir. The city and the region are named after the Krems river, which snakes through the mountains from the north and joins up with the Danube just east of the town. Once the center of the Austrian wine trade, it is now recognized, due to its critical location, as one of the most challenging and rewarding wine-producing sites in Europe. Bordering Krems on the west is the Wachau and its famous Urgestein (primary rock) vineyards, while on the north and east borders lie the loess-dominated vineyards of Kamptal. These soils, and their impact on wine structure and style — steely and structured from the terraces in the West, and ripe finessed fruit from the East, meet in the city itself, where resourceful winemakers take full advantage of their situation. Krems is also the meeting point of two competing, often conflicting, climatic influences: the warming Pannonian breeze from the east and the steady cold push from the north. While this dynamic can sometimes prove lethal (surprising viticulturists with mold on the one hand or devastating hail on the other), it also provides conditions necessary for the production of highly aromatic, balanced wines. While Gruner Veltliner dominates the scene with approximately 60% of the region’s almost 5,434 acres in production, Kremstal is the source of some of Austria’s finest Rieslings, which account for only 10% of total output.
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